Epilog: A Comment Reminded Me…

I used to wonder what rights I could sell to my fiction. What exactly those rights were all called. I thought for the longest time there were rules and I just couldn’t find the rules or the secret door to go through to discover where those rules were posted.

I think all of us feel that way early on because we don’t understand the true nature of copyright when we start writing. In fact, most writers, even though they will spend years writing, don’t have a clue what they are trying to sell or license. And won’t spend one minute trying to learn it.

Let alone the real nature of copyright, the deep down nature of it. That takes time to really understand.

So the truth? There is no magic list of what you can and can’t sell in your copyright. Or what the names are of those magical things you slice out of your copyright pie.

And there are certainly no rules.

NONE.

ZERO. ZIP. ZILCH.

It took me some time to realize that as well.

I wanted to know what exactly First Serial Rights meant and First Anthology Rights, or Non-exclusive Anthology Rights and so on and so on, not realizing those are just made-up terms for contracts to help two parties define exactly what is needed.

And the reason those terms are used regularly, if you actually look at the terms, is because they clearly define a way to slice a copyright pie.

In essence, what I am trying to say is this: To describe the piece of your copyright pie you are licensing to another person in a contract, you can call it anything the two of you agree to that will be clear as to what is being licensed.

Now I had a comment wishing I had put more “meat” in my Magic Bakery book. The person had hoped I would define all that stuff. Even if I had tried, I would be wrong for the very next contract you saw.

How can I define terms, put meat, as the comment said, in an article when the very question shows a lack of knowledge of copyright in contracts?

There is no meat past you learning copyright and understanding that you are free to define the slice of your pie in any damn way you see fit. As long as you and the person on the other side of the contract agree to the definition or name you put on it.

The Magic Bakery Book was an attempt at helping with some basic understanding of copyright and business in this new world of publishing. I put all the “meat” I could in it and still keep it at a basic level.

As a young writer, not understanding copyright, I would have been disappointed as well that the book didn’t give the secret handshake and the location of where all those terms were hidden.

Ahh, well. I knew the danger of trying to do a book on copyright in a world where writers are flat determined to not learn it.

So let me start the list of “meat” for those of you still looking for the sacred scroll of terms locked in that hidden vault in a Chicago basement. Then maybe you will understand the vault really is empty.

Example

Take your most recent Magic Pie off the shelf and get out a sharp magic knife.  Then cut out a very, very thin slice to license and in the contract for that slice you can call that license “First North American Refrigerator Magnet Rights.”

You can and should reserve “First English Refrigerator Magnet Rights” in the contract because you never know about those companies in other parts of the world. (A different slice.)

Also hold back all “Refrigerator Magnet Translation Rights.” (Yet another slice.)

And make sure you are clear in your terms in your contract that the right does not include “First North American Button Rights.” (Yet another slice.)

And make sure you say that all other rights are reserved to the author so nothing leaves your Magic Pie by accident.

Those are all real rights, folks, and if you can’t figure out what they are, just slowly say aloud the name of the slice. The words describe the slice of the pie you are licensing.

It really is that simple.

As I said numbers of times in different chapters, every pie can be sliced into thousands of slices, limited only by your imagination on how to limit a right and your understanding of the basic nature of copyright.

Hope that helps some with adding “meat” into the book. Magic Meat I suppose.

And finally, the metaphor stretched too far and broke.

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